New BOSaNOVA Tool Integrates iSeries Data with Windows, Office
by Alex Woodie
OfficeVision/400 stragglers take note: BOSaNOVA introduced a tool at the COMMON conference last week that automatically merges iSeries data with Microsoft Office programs and documents. There are many other iSeries-to-Windows integration capabilities of OLE-based Launcher/400 Office, for which BOSaNOVA gained exclusive distribution rights in North America from its French developer. BOSaNOVA also used the show to flesh out its thin client lineup with two Windows-based, touch-screen, wireless tablets and a low-end, bargain-basement Linux device.
Launcher/400 uses OLE to allow OS/400 servers to control and place data in Microsoft Windows and Office applications, as well as any other OLE-compliant program, such as the OpenOffice open-source PC productivity suite.
Not only does the software provide an easy to way move OS/400-resident data into PC applications--eliminating the need for repetitive copy-and-paste techniques--but it keeps the OS/400 server in full control of the Windows and Office applications as well. There are many potential uses of this software to link the front and back offices.
For example, Launcher/400 Office can be used to replace OfficeVision/400 functionality. There is undoubtedly a handful of OS/400 shops still using this unsupported IBM program, and Launcher/400 Office could be their ticket away. With Launcher/400 Office, users can automate batch runs that move customer data or objects (such as barcodes, logos, and signatures) from OS/400 to a new purchase order template created in Microsoft Word, for example. With the product's capability to open and direct Windows applications, one could also have these Word documents automatically faxed or e-mailed. It can also transfer data from DB2/400 or queries into Windows applications, create Excel spreadsheets from OS/400 application data, or display it as Word, PDF, or HTML documents.
In addition to Launcher/400 Office, BOSaNOVA gained the distribution rights to Launcher/400 SQL, a similar product that provides an API for using ODBC to allow OS/400 applications to read and write data onto external Windows-based databases, such as SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, MySQL, and Microsoft Access. The software supports a variety of SQL query statements, as well as stored procedures.
The Launcher/400 products were developed by Aura Equipements, a French company that has sold thousands of Launcher/400 licenses in Europe. As the exclusive North American distributor, BOSaNOVA has set a starting price of $1,425 for Launcher/400 Office, although its resellers are free to change that. Launcher/400 SQL is slightly more expensive.
BOSaNOVA also launched three more thin clients at the COMMON conference last week.
The two new BOSaNOVA 8375 wireless tablets represent a new market niche for BOSaNOVA. The rugged devices, which cost about $3,000 each and are available in Windows CE and Windows XP flavors, are suitable for industrial applications, such as a warehouse environment, and healthcare environments, where medical professionals need access to their applications.
The most striking feature of the new wireless model is its bright 8.4-inch TFT touch-screen display, which can show an entire 5250 screen without the need to modify the screen to fit the display (a common hassle with smaller screens), and it is protected from drops and other occupational hazards by an encasement of hard rubber. Users interact with the device entirely through this screen and a stylus, which is used to enter data via a pop-up keyboard that shows on the display.
If users find the on-screen keyboard too constricting, there is also the "hotspot" feature, which BOSaNOVA's president, Martin Pladgeman, points to as a key differentiator. "A very handy feature is that the user can launch a macro from customizable hotspots on the main screen," Pladgeman says. "The macro plays back the recorded keystroke sequence that will take you all the way through the application. That makes quite a big difference when you don't have to go through multiple touch screens."
The BOSaNOVA 8375 wireless tablet features a 400 MHz Intel processor, either 32 MB or 64 MB of flash memory, and 128 MB of RAM, support for 802.11g and Bluetooth wireless standards, a full complement of emulators (5250, Citrix, and the like), a Java virtual machine, handwriting recognition software, Windows Media Player, and other Microsoft software. The device, which weighs just shy of 2 pounds, also features ports for adding devices such as barcode scanners.
Lastly, BOSaNOVA has a new $295 entry-level thin client for the cost-conscious business consumer. The Classic Thin Client features a 200 MHz SiS processor, 64 MB of memory, a Linux operating system, and is designed to be a "true" thin client, in the traditional meaning of the term, which means you won't find any productivity software: no Web browser, no Office, and certainly no Windows Media Player.
With the Classic Thin Client, all of a user's applications are accessed through Windows Terminal Server, Citrix, or Tarantella's server-based emulators. Up to six Citrix RDP sessions can be opened at a single time. For more information, go to www.bosanova.net.